Rep. Steve King Dismisses Protests: Wall Street Not "The Scene Of The Crime"

October 05, 2011 11:50 am ET — Alan Pyke

As the Occupy Wall Street protests pick up steam and media attention, it's only natural that Fox Business would turn to a wealthy five-term congressman from the Midwest for analysis. Despite those questionable qualifications, Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) appearance on Eric Bolling's Follow the Money last night did produce one revealing moment. In responding to a clip of Van Jones describing Wall Street as "the scene of the crime against our future," King revealed his ignorance of what actually happened on Wall Street and in the broader financial sector that led to the economic collapse that closed out the Bush years.

BOLLING: Is Wall Street, is capitalism, is that system that we've built such a strong, beautiful, wonderful country, the leader in almost every industry, is that the scene of the crime, sir?

KING: I wouldn't say it's the scene of the crime. They are influential in national policy, that's why they give a lot of money, most of it now is going to the Democrats. But I would say this, that we must have a Wall Street, we must have a market, we need an honest market, we'd have been better off to let some of those operations that we propped up fold, that way there would create the honesty and they'd have been a lot more careful with their investments.

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Leave aside King's misleading depiction of Wall Street political contributions, which we've debunked repeatedly with data showing that the financial sector swung its money to the GOP after Democrats passed a Wall Street reform package last year. Instead, focus on King's rejection of the notion that Wall Street caused the economic collapse. King doesn't know — or is pretending not to know — about the pervasive dishonesty of financial market practices in the years leading up to the 2007 collapse, and the wink-nudge attitude taken by President Bush's financial regulators toward those practices.

It's no longer reasonable to plead ignorance on this stuff. A documentary about Wall Street's corrupt casino culture won an Academy Award. There have been numerous best-selling books published about it. A bipartisan commission issued a lengthy, detailed report on what led to the crisis, which faults deregulation and murky financial market practices among other things. A U.S. congressman should be able to discuss subprime lending, liars loans, and credit default swaps in intelligent terms.

When Republican leaders like Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) or Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) absolve Wall Street of any wrongdoing, they offer an alternative (and false) explanation for what happened. At the very least, if Rep. King honestly believes that Wall Street isn't "the scene of the crime" despite all the available evidence, he has an obligation to explain why.

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